© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
02/22/10 4:19 PM EST
Gomes reaches deal with Reds
One-year pact includes team option for 2011 season
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Not only did free-agent outfielder Jonny Gomes make it back to the Reds just before full-squad workouts, he was able to get a Major League contract to boot. Gomes signed a one-year contract with a 2011 club option Monday after he passed a physical. Terms weren't immediately available. His return capped a very active late stretch of the offseason for the front office. Cincinnati was mostly quiet until January, but has since signed Cuban star Aroldis Chapman, free-agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera and traded outfielder Willy Taveras to get utility player Aaron Miles. And now, Gomes is back. Full-squad workouts for the club begin Tuesday. "The only thing we hadn't checked off was a right-handed power hitter," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "I think Jonny definitely fills that role. There will definitely be a lot of competition for that spot in [left field]." In 281 at-bats for the Reds, Gomes slugged 20 home runs while batting .267 with 51 RBIs and a .338 on-base percentage in 98 games. But he was non-tendered on Dec. 12. Gomes' name was linked to numerous clubs throughout the winter. He was reportedly close to joining the Cubs in January until Chicago signed Xavier Nady. The Indians and Mariners were also rumored suitors. "It was definitely a different offseason than in the past," said Gomes, who was sporting a new Mohawk haircut. "A lot of people overplayed their hand, it's what it seemed like. It wasn't in my case at all. If I was ever to hold out for money or a big deal, it wouldn't be after a 280 at-bat campaign. "After the non-tender, the No. 1 thing on my plate was a Major League deal. The money is nice, of course, but I just wanted to get a Major League deal. It took all the way to Feb. 22. It doesn't matter when you sign, as long as you get in before camp. Here I am. I'm definitely happy to be back, for sure." In recent weeks, Gomes' name resurfaced on Cincinnati's radar with an offer of a Minor League deal on the table. "Not long ago," according to Gomes, Cincinnati improved the offer to a big league one, which meant he can be on the 40-man roster in camp. "Walt and my agent dealt with all the paperwork. I have 100 percent trust in my agents. I just stayed out of it as much as possible," Gomes said. "All I can deal with is what goes on between the lines. Now is when I take over." Gomes, 29, immediately moves toward the top of the list for players vying for the Reds' vacant left-field spot. Like last season, it's possible a platoon situation might develop. Against left-handers in 2009, Gomes batted .307 compared to .244 against right-handers. Other contenders for left field include Chris Dickerson, Wladimir Balentien, Laynce Nix, Chris Heisey, Todd Frazier, Josh Anderson and Juan Francisco. Of the right-handed hitters in this group, Gomes has the most big league experience. "Dusty [Baker] and Walt have a lot of options," Gomes said. "All I can worry about is the flexibility I can bring. I feel I can hit righties more than people think." Gomes lives about 40 minutes from the Reds' spring complex in Goodyear. Once the deal was agreed upon, he drove over for his physical. Before meeting with the medical staff, he popped into the clubhouse to warm greetings from his teammates. "I was actually pretty confident I would end up with a Major League deal, to tell you the truth," Gomes said. "I'm starting to become established. I think I've proven myself at the Major League level. Coming back here, I was actually pretty confident, too. I wanted to come back here." To make room for Gomes on the roster, pitcher Edinson Volquez was placed on the 60-day disabled list. Volquez is still rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.